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What it Means to Be on a Long-Term Recovery Committee

So far, United Way of Southeast Missouri has collected $76,000 for the people in Perryville impacted by the February tornado. Many people have asked how the funds are being distributed, and we are eager for our donors to know exactly how their dollars are being managed.

UWSEMO is one of many organizations represented on a Long-Term Recovery Committee (LTRC). Other members include The Salvation Army, The American Red Cross, First Call for Help, 211, the Perryville Community Foundation, Catholic Charities, and more.

A social worker from the Perryville community is meeting with each of the 58 families impacted to identify their needs and ability to meet them. Many families were well insured and, once their immediate needs were met, they are able to rebuild without needing much in the way of financial assistance. For those families and individuals who need additional help, the case manager brings the unmet needs to the LTRC, where we discuss which organization can help with each unmet need. Some are able to provide donated items, such as clothing, housewares and furniture; others, like UWSEMO, are able to provide funds.

Being involved in this committee is eye opening. There are so many details that must be managed, including responsible management of donations over a long period of time. With only 58 families registering with the case worker, the LTRC must be especially diligent in ensuring we are meeting needs and not carelessly dispensing funds.  I was surprised to learn funds from the Joplin LTRC still are being distributed five years after that community was devastated. Rebuilding takes time, and it does not apply only to physical needs. Children are especially traumatized following an event of this proportion, and we may identify emotional help that should be provided now and into the future.

Helping Perryville rebuild physically and emotionally will be a long process. Fortunately, United Way is a long-standing organization familiar with the patience and diligence needed to help families and individuals rebuild. Creating lasting change is what we do, even when the change is unplanned and unexpected. We and the people of Perryville remain incredibly grateful to our generous donors and volunteers. Thank you.

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